1. Check your feet every day - If you can't see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror, or ask someone to help inspect them for you. If you notice any areas of irritation or redness, this could lead to an open sore. Bring them to your doctor's attention immediately.
2. If you notice a corn or callus, do not use medicated corn pads, metallic foot files, or other instruments on your feet. If you have diabetes, you may have neuropathy, or lack of feeling, that may not allow you to feel sensation in your feet. Neuropathy also may present as numbness or tingling at the tips of your toes.
3. Make sure your shoes fit well. Your feet may not be the same size as they were a few years ago, and life changes, swelling, or injury may alter the size or shape of your foot. You should make sure they fit well otherwise they may cause uneven areas of wear and pressure on your skin which could lead to open sores. Have your shoe size checked once a year. Wear shoes with a wide toe box. As a diabetic, you may qualify for special diabetic shoes and special inserts, or orthotics, to cushion your feet. Your podiatrist will determine if the prescription shoes and insoles are right for you.
4. Treat any areas of dry cracked skin on the heels - Due to how diabetes affects your nervous system, and sometimes due to high glucose levels, your skin may appear dry and cracked. If this is the case, be sure to use a skin cream or lotion on the tops and bottoms of your feet, never between your toes! If these cracks or fissures are not treated they can lead to an opening in the skin causing a local infection.
5. Do not go barefoot - If you have neuropathy, or lack of sensation in your feet, you may be in danger of erroneously stepping on a foreign object that could puncture the skin and you may not feel it. This could lead to infection or even worse, amputation.
6. Change your socks often - Keeping your feet in clean, mixed cotton/blended socks will allow your feet to both breathe and keep them dry and protected. 100% cotton socks are not recommended as they will allow sweat and moisture to stay up against your skin which could promote an environment for fungus and bacteria to grow.
7. Exercise - Keep moving! Any exercise you choose, whether it is as simple as walking the dog or taking a stroll around the block, to swimming or biking, is important in keeping the blood flowing to your legs and feet as well as for flexibility. Notify your doctor if you are short of breath or if exercising is uncomfortable to your legs or lower extremity.
8. Quit Smoking - Easier said than done, however, smoking will affect the blood flow to your legs and feet and the effects of lack of circulation to the feet can lead to infection and amputation.
9. Keep your blood sugars under control - You can decrease the negative effects that diabetes has on your feet by watching your diet and monitoring your blood sugars daily. It will not only help your feet and legs, but this in turn will also help control your neuropathy and help increase your healing potential should you injure your feet.
10. Get your foot checked by a podiatrist at least once a year - We will do a complete lower extremity exam and identify all the issues affecting the health of your feet. If you have a podiatrist, please pay him or her a visit! Otherwise, please call the Diabetes Center of Excellence at Prairie Path Foot and Ankle Clinic. Visit our website at www.elmhurstfootdoc.com for more information.
We look forward to participating in the care of your feet!